BY MELISSA BENTON AND LAURA VAN HYFTE
Daily Staff Reporters
Published February 10, 2005
Suspended Michigan football player Larry Harrison attended his pre-trial yesterday where a judge examined the validity of the charges brought against him and determined that there was enough evidence to move Harrison’s case to a trial court where he could be convicted.
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Harrison was apprehended by the Ann Arbor Police Department for indecent exposure in December when he was caught exposing himself and masturbating in front of an off-campus house. He is on trial for a total of four counts of sexual delinquency, said Chris Fitzpatrick, a detective at the AAPD, and could serve from one day to life on every charge.
Harrison pleaded “not guilty” to all four counts of sexual delinquency.
After the proceedings of the pre-trial, Judge John Collins concluded that there was enough evidence compiled against Harrison to hold a trial and possibly convict him on all counts. Collins set the trial date for March 23 at 4:30 p.m.
Testifying against the plaintiff, AAPD Officer Craig Lee detailed the acts of sexual delinquency that Harrison committed:
On the eve of Dec. 6, Lee went to investigate the reported incidents in plain clothes and without his police car. After receiving a call about a suspect gold Chevy Cavalier in the area of the reported exposure incidents, Lee, driving alone in a civilian car, began to follow the vehicle.
Lee followed the car to a house located on 730 S. Division St. The blinds were rolled up, and Lee could see the three white females through the window.
Lee parked across the street from the house so he could observe it, and he soon saw Harrison walking down the sidewalk toward the house.
Lee said that once Harrison approached the property line from the north, he pulled his pants down to his thighs, exposed himself completely and began to masturbate.
Lee said he observed Harrison masturbating while he was on the porch of 730 S. Division St. “He left and walked down the driveway to the street — masturbating the whole time,” Lee said.
Another officer soon arrived on the scene and helped Lee place Harrison under arrest.
Three women brought additional claims of sexual delinquency against Harrison during the pre-trial: Corinn Cunningham, Erin Sorensen and Kathrine Karlson.
Sorensen, a third-year Nursing student, said she and her housemates witnessed a man who fit Harrison’s description masturbating in front of their door on Dec. 6. Because of poor lighting, however, she was unable to clearly see his face.
Kathrine Karlson witnessed a similar instance on Aug. 22. Karslon said a man approached her and her friends with his pants down around his calves while they were sitting on the porch.
Harrison’s attorney, Anthony T. Chambers, heavily questioned the validity of the three girls’ accusations. Because all three girls allegedly saw the suspect at night and none got a good look at his face, exact identification of the defendant was in serious question.
Following the acts of indecency, the three females were given the opportunity to pick the perpetrator out of a photo lineup. However, no girl was able to pick out Harrison 100 percent of the time.
In fact, Cunningham picked out two older men in their 50s twice when looking at the photo lineups.
Chambers suggested that there was not enough evidence to convict Harrison in all four cases because the three girls did not clearly see the man’s face.
“The issues are obvious. There are identification problems where the individuals picked out 50-year-old men,” Chambers said.
However, Blaine Longsworth, the prosecuting attorney, said the crimes must have been committed by the same man. “There is significant commonality among all of these cases concerning who committed the crime and how it was committed,” Longsworth said.
Longsworth pointed to patterns in the cases: All of the incidents occurred at night within a small geographic area and the man always had his pants down below his knees and used his right hand.
“These reveal unconvincingly that it was the same person committing all of the crimes, and I would ask the court to bind (the four counts) over,” said Longsworth.
Judge John Collins, however, said the trial court would have to decide whether or not to join the cases together.
Court in session
-An AAPD officer and three women served as witnesses in Harrison’s pre-trial
-The prosecutor asked the court to join the four cases
-Harrison’s attorney, Anthony Chambers, argued there were different identification problems with the women’s testimonies, and therefore so they could not be joined together